Executive Board

Current Executive Board

President: Cosette Schneider

Secretary: Patricia Erickson, MPH

Treasurer: Nina Rajpurohit

Director of Membership: Kexin Wang

Directors of Programs: Jessica Semel, M.S.

Director of Social Media & Webmaster: Obianuju Okonkwo

Director of Sponsorship: Shannon Speed, Ph.D.



Cosette Schneider



Cosette Schneider is a graduate student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she is pursuing her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Cosette's research interests include infectious disease, vaccinology, and protein chemistry. Her thesis research in the lab of Dr. Lynda Coughlan aims to investigate neuraminidase as a universal influenza vaccine target antigen. Prior to joining University of Maryland, Cosette received her Bachelor's from Luther College in Biology and spent two years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research developing mRNA and nanoparticle vaccines for malaria. Cosette is passionate about improving scientific literacy in her community and cultivating enthusiasm for STEM among young women, especially from underrepresented communities. In her free time, Cosette can be found volunteering at the Maryland Science Center or at the dog park with her golden retriever. 


Patricia Erickson, MPH



Patricia Erickson is a PhD candidate at the University at Maryland, Baltimore, where she is pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology. Her research focuses on cancer epidemiology and her dissertation is focused on pesticide exposures and cancer risk. Outside of research, you can find Patricia running (usually training for a marathon) or in the kitchen, testing out new recipes. She is relatively new to AWIS but is looking forward to becoming more involved and connecting with more women in STEM.


Nina Rajpurohit




Shannon Speed, Ph.D.



Shannon Speed received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Public Health and Education from Miami University in 2022. After which, she completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the joint NIDA/NIAAA laboratory on Clinical Psychoneuroendocrinology and Neuropsycharmacology. Dr. Speed’s doctoral and postdoctoral research included a broad focus in alcohol and substance use, with a specialization on the feeding and alcohol disorder known as drunkorexia and associated alcohol consequences.


Kexin Wang



Kexin Wang is pursuing a PhD at Johns Hopkins University Biomedical Engineering Department. Coming from China, Kexin joined Dr. Jiadi Xu’s lab where she pursues her research interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with a specific focus on its application for metabolite mapping in the human brain. When she is not immersed in the lab and making breakthroughs, she maintains a healthy balance by engaging in some of her favorite activities such as swimming and basketball. Both that help her to stay fit and refreshed. Her journey as a dedicated researcher and sports enthusiast has shaped her into a well-rounded individual, always eager to explore new possibilities and embrace challenges. She looks forward to contributing her skills and knowledge as the Membership Director where she will foster a vibrant and inclusive community for all. She looks forward to making this year one to remember! 


Jessica Semel, M.S.



Jessica Semel has a ScM in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the cardiac intermediate filament, desmin, and its modification during different cardiac diseases. Prior to her masters and moving to Baltimore, she completed her bachelors at Stony Brook University and was involved in research focusing on molecularly imprinted biosensors, cancer cell migration, and evolutionary divergence of hoary bat subspecies. She recently became involved in AWIS but hopes to become more involved in the community and to inspire younger generations to explore a future career in science.


Obianuju Okonkwo



Obianuju Okonkwo is a current master of public health candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she will graduate with a customized concentration in health policy. She started her clinical research career at Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) in Palliative Care Research for the Translational Science Department. She went on to be a research coordinator at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Women’s Center GYN subspecialties. She is now a research specialist in Cardiac Surgery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine. Her primary trials are tricuspid and mitral valve replacement and cardiac xenotransplantation. In addition to these trials, she supervises a small team of research coordinators and assistants in the implementation and coordination of 56 other trials. After graduation, she will further her education and career by pursuing an MD or MD/PhD in Health Policy. She hopes serving as Director of Social Media for AWIS will allow her to connect other women in STEM to not only expand their career opportunities but create a community of like minded individuals that can be a safe space. Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/obianuju-c-okonkwo